IMDb > Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

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Los Angeles Plays Itself -- A film by Thom Andersen.

A Cinema Guild Release.


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Thom Andersen (text)
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A documentary on how Los Angeles has been used and depicted in the movies. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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Encke King ... Narrator (voice)

Directed by
Thom Andersen 
Writing credits
Thom Andersen (text)

Produced by
Thom Andersen .... producer
Cinematography by
Deborah Stratman 
Film Editing by
Seung-Hyun Yoo 
Sound Department
Thor Moser .... sound
Craig Smith .... sound
Editorial Department
Peter Bo Rappmund .... addtional editing

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
169 min

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Moviescapes, 14 July 2011
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

This is one of the most interesting projects about cinema (as the filmed frame) that I know of. It is about the city as background, as character and subject. They were making as far back as the 1920's films as hymns to the cityscape and what life in it, 'city symphonies' they called them, but here it is about the most photographed city in the world. A place that was nothing more than a small town when the dream factories rolled in and shaped it into a myth that sustains itself. And it's entirely in terms of cinematic history, entirely cobbled together from other peoples' vision of that place.

So the essay is about the history of a city as reflected in cinema and shaped by it, about Hollywood's idea of Los Angeles overlapping with the actual place where real people live. The filmmaker has compiled clips from a large array of films; from silents and noir to 80's action and modern blockbusters. The idea is that we're looking at the background of these shots, at the actual reality and place over which is superimposed the movie fantasy.

Various insights here, ranging from the stridently interprative to the intuitively discerning. It amuses the narrator for example, how modernist architectural houses built to signify transparence are turned by movies into the dens of iniquity of shady characters simply because they look weird from the outside. How the same building could substitute as a hotel, a police station, and a newspaper office depending on the movie. How the disappearance of entire neighborhoods can be actually traced in the footage of movies filmed there. Bunker Hill was a busy, homely district where pensioners and poor immigrants lived in the late 50's, but in '84 it substitutes well as a desolate urban wasteland in Night of the Comet.

And a more interesting one. How cinema imagined in Chinatown or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, perhaps reflecting public opinion, devious schemes by shady groups of plutocrats to usurp control of the water or public transport, while the actual reality was banal; these things happened, or efforts towards them, but in the public eye and with its support.

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